’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
Words by John Newton, 1779
Music by James P. Carrell & David S. Clayton, 1831
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8 – 10
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus
Romans 3:20 – 24
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:24 – 25
If we are honest, most of us tend to think pretty highly of ourselves. We like to think we are the most interesting person we know. We like to think we have amazing talents that are unmatched. We like to think that we can do any we set our minds to doing. And most importantly, we like to think that we are really good people. But are we really any of these things?
I mean, if I am really honest, there are definitely more interesting people out there than me. There are also people with far more amazing talents than I have. If I am honest, I would much rather sit back and relax rather than following through on some of my projects. And finally, deep down, I realize I am not such a good person, but rather someone who likes to look out for my own interest. This theme is found presented in John Newton’s famous hymn, “Amazing Grace.”
Newton writes, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that save a wretch like me.” We all have heard these words sung and often sung them ourselves. But when we stop to listen to the words we might ask, “Really, isn’t that a little harsh. A wretch like me? I mean really, I am not that bad.” But when we stop to look at the real magnitude of God’s grace, we realize that in comparison with that grace, we are, . . I am, a miserable wretch. It is then that we can say with Paul in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am!”
You see, in our eyes we may look at some people as greater sinners than others. But the reality is that in God’s eyes, there is no difference between one sin and another. And one sinner is not greater than another. Look at the words of Romans 3:23 which tell us, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You see it does not matter what sin you have done or how many you have done. The words of the hymn hold true, we are sinners and truly can say “a wretch like me.”
What is more, this grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:8) to see us through our trials. Newton writes, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.” When we realize the situation we really live in, then we can look back and see that it is God’s grace alone, not our doing, that has safely brought us to the point we now find ourselves. What is more, this grace that has brought us to today, can see us through to the end.
It is truly an amazing grace that has been bestowed on us. A grace that we desperately need. A grace that can be found through Christ alone. There is a famous quote given by John Newton later in his life that sums it up. “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” When we understand this and begin to truly see ourselves as Newton did, we find new meaning in these familiar words, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
Read more about “Amazing Grace.”